Virtual Reality and Learning: The Newest Landscape for Higher Education
In the WIRED article, Virtual Reality and Learning: The Newest Landscape for Higher Education, Shuster argues that virtual reality environments “promise to deliver the best aspects of both real-world classrooms and online distance learning into a single platform. With tools that provide avatars that represent the educators and the students, voice and video capabilities, powerpoint and other collaborative whiteboard technologies and group and private messaging chat, educators are finding that the newest generation of virtual worlds can simplify the lecture and presentation process, allow students to ask/answers questions to their teacher or each other (without interrupting the lecture), socialize and learn in a very streamlined manner. All of this is done with the convenience and cost efficiency of distance learning.”
Shuster points out that VR lends itself to be especially useful for interesting learning opportunities such as transporting students to important situations in history (e.g. a battleground or key moment in the Civil War) and other contexts (meeting George Washington or another influential person). To teach chemistry, students could be given opportunities to manipulate elements molecules by hand — for example, choosing elements from Periodic Table and assembling two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen together, seeing the result.